Defensive intensity propels Lady Wreckers
It wasn't pretty, but the Staples girls basketball team got the job done on Tuesday at Fairfield Ludlowe. Despite going only 12-47 from the field (3-8 from 3-point land) and losing the battle on the glass, 40-26, Staples came away with a 43-29 victory. The Lady Wreckers raised their record to 13-5, 12-4 in the FCIAC. Ludlowe dropped to 5-11, 4-11.
"Right now, we're fielding the smallest team in the FCIAC, bar none," Staples coach Ed Huydic said. "This is a case study of intense defense, high energy and key shots falling at the right time, Wrecker style."
The Lady Wreckers won mostly through forcing 25 turnovers on defense while committing only 13. Senior captain Suvi Puripattarapan and juniors Nicole Brill and Jaclyn Katz led the way, causing the Lady Falcons to shoot 10-44 from the field (5-22 from 3-point land).
"We put a lot of pressure on the ball and moved our feet," Puripattarapan said.
Brill (one point, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals, two forced turnovers, three tieups) was Staples' reliable rebounder and played a scrappy game on defense. She set up the Lady Wreckers' first two baskets of the game and her relentless play helped stake them to a 10-8 lead after one quarter.
Although Ludlowe shot 23 percent from the field, it still managed to hit the occasional trey and led by one point on two occasions, 3-2 and 11-10 after swishing two 3-pointers.
Staples regained the lead for good, 13-11, on Puripattarapan's (17 points, three rebounds, three steals, one forced turnover, two tieups) trey off a feed from junior Julie Strickland (two points, two assists, three steals). The lead mushroomed to six, 18-12, before the Lady Falcons came back and cut it to 18-17 with 2:05 left. Ludlowe scored three points off the offensive glass in this span, hitting one putback and a free throw after drawing a foul while grabbing the offensive rebound.
Senior Caroline Accardi (two points, one rebound, two assists, two steals, two forced turnovers, one tieup) gave the Lady Wreckers a lift on both ends in the first half. Accardi set up Katz' layup with 1:04 to go to make it 20-17, which was the halftime score.
Staples built the lead to 10 in the third quarter with Puripattarapan making five free throws. She was a near perfect 11-12 from the line and the Lady Wreckers were 16-21 from the charity stripe.
"We've been practicing our free throws a lot and I was able to focus and block out everything around me," Puripattarapan said.
Senior captain Chelsea Salamone (six points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, one forced turnover, one tieup) hit a layup and two free throws and played solid defense in the second half to contribute to Staples' surge. Sophomore Remy Nolan (seven points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals) also gave the Lady Wreckers a lift by pursuing loose balls and made a layup and two free throws.
Katz (eight points, five rebounds, one assist, five steals, one forced turnover) was a thief on defense all night and ignited Staples with a coast-to-coast layup attempt off a steal.
"We don't have size so we all had to come out and play good defense and go after the ball," Katz said. "Chelsea and Suvi played good defense up top, which opened up steals for Nikki, Remy and me."
Ludlowe made one last comeback attempt with an 8-2 run to close the gap to four, 30-26 with 4:24 left in the game.
Staples answered with a 9-0 run and Strickland put an exclamation point on the victory with a layup off a steal at midcourt. Katz keyed the run with a blocked shot.
"I tried to get in front of the girl and not let her get the shot off," Katz said.
Puripattarapan said, "It proves we're a good team when we win with our post players out."